Monthly Archives: January 2018

Enterprise essentials #1 – 21 tips from StartUp 2018

It’s January 13th 2018 and hundreds of entrepreneurs both young and old (but mainly young) are gathered in East London to consider anything and everything to do with starting a business. A great day with loads on on offer – so ‘pick and mix’ was the way to go.

The event was also refreshingly free from business bullshit and the hero-worshipping of edgy, sweary entrepreneurs spouting ‘awesome’, ‘cool’ and ‘disruptive’ all day. In no particular order (as they say on Strictly) I picked up the following tips by keeping my ears pinned back during the day.

  1. The recommended maximum number of questions and completion time for market research surveys is 22 questions and seven minutes (after that there’s a severe drop in response rates)
  2. Success in starting  business is largely down to a combination of ideas, skills and persistence, and lot of them – 90% of business start-ups fail within a year, 47% of retail businesses survive for 10 years
  3. Making products is not business, selling products is the business
  4. Focus on your passions, understand the core mission of your new business, be clear why you are different from other similar businesses (the competition)
  5. The difference between masculine and feminine marketing is the difference between ‘hard sell’ and ‘heart sell’
  6. Talk to as many people as possible- share your ideas freely. Unless your product is technical, forget patents (they’re expensive) and concentrate on protecting your trade mark
  7. Get your products out there as soon as possible – stop talking, start selling – just do it!
  8. Write down 50 people you think should know about your new business, decide how you’re going to reach them, and tell them
  9. “Success is selling something that doesn’t come back to people who do” A cliche, but true.
  10. Work hard, be nice to people, do your research, know your customers, be prepared to sacrifice sleep
  11. Start small, never stop learning and the business will grow with you
  12. When you start out in business think about your definition of success – is it making money, making a difference, or what?
  13. Ideas are worthless, execution is everything
  14. In your business pitch start with the pain for your customers
  15. When you start business planning, list all your assumptions and test each one [before someone else asks you awkward questions]
  16. Mentors are great for keeping you on track and keeping you going, particularly at start-up stage
  17. The highs and lows are more extreme when starting your own business [rather than working in someone else’s]
  18. Know your strengths and [particularly] your weaknesses when starting a business
  19. Tough times at start-up stage can be a springboard for great business development
  20. Understand your brand, focus on the core of your mission, follow your passion, talk to lots of people
  21. Starting a business takes three times as long as you think it will

Further support from and


Learning to learn

As some of you may know, I’m trying to learn to Hula-Hoop (not sure it should be written with capital ‘H’ and ‘H’ and is it a verb?) To help the process, I hope, I’ve now decided to set a target – 30 minutes by 30 January –  watch this space for updates if you can be bothered.

I’m planning to learn through YouTube videos and with support from my wife (who can do it already). She says it’s easy, but this observation is not particularly helpful because most people who can already do something – like riding a bike – have usually forgotten the trials, tribulations and frustrations of the learning process.

But I know that encouragement is important – which is why I’ll never forgive my daughter’s teacher from primary school. Two weeks into her first term, the teacher in question said our daughter was useless at maths. Our daughter has lived with that assessment – which proved to be wrong – for the past 20 years, and we wonder how many other lives have been blighted by that teacher’s thoughtlessness and insensitivity.

I’m not setting myself up as some armchair expert on teaching (but I have done two train-the-trainer courses…) – it’s easy to criticise – but I know the basic principles:

Make it fun. Apparently humour uses both sides of the brain – the logical left side and the creative right side – so when you’re having a good time learning something you tend to absorb the information better. And, of course, it makes you keener to learn other things.

Encourage learners. Our train-the-trainer tutor not only made our studying fun, he also said there were few rules about how to teach well but he did say that encouragement will always get your learner further faster, than by being critical in a negative way (like our daughter’s maths teacher two decades ago…)

It’s all about the learner, not the teacher. While training is something of a performance, the audience’s needs must always come first. You may have all the right skills and use the techniques correctly, but if the learner doesn’t learn, you’ve failed.

We all learn in different ways. Broad learning styles can, and have, been defined for many decades. But what works for you will be very personal (I learn by reading and doing) and knowing your particular learning style can help you make better progress, and help your teacher get you there faster.

Be clear about ‘learning objectives’.  That’s just a posh way of suggesting you should know why you’re learning and how you will measure success. Which bring us back to my target to be able to Hula-Hoop for 30 seconds by 30 January.

I’ll let you know how I get on and I’ll also be publishing further blog posts in this new ‘learning circle’ series throughout 2018.

Further reading: Learning Styles